New Santipada site

Hi all bloggists. Just to let you know, I haven’t been checking the blog for the past week or so, so if your comments haven’t appeared, don’t worry, I’ll get around to it soon.

I’ve been putting together a new version of our decrepit old Santipada site. Like most of Santi’s web presence this was built on googlepages, which served us well for a few years, but which is now falling apart. Since I started this blog, I’ve learnt a little about WordPress, and, with substantial assistance, have learnt to do a few simple websites. We’ve rebuilt the Santi FM website on WordPress, as well as the Australian Sangha Association. The latest is Santipada, the Santi FM ‘in-house’ publishing arm, currently at http://santifm.org/santipada/ (but soon to be redirected to santipada.org).

I’ve had a number of ideas for how a good reading site should be built, and I’m glad to say I’ve been able to implement just about all of them.The aim of the site is to present writing in the best possible way on the web. To accom­plish this I have started with a text-oriented WordPress theme, The Erudite, and modified it to further enhance it as a writer’s platform. The appearance has been tweaked, and the font size increased. I’ve paid detailed attention to typographic niceties, like ‘hanging quotes’, proper verse layout, tables, footnotes, semantic markup, and so on. For seamless display of diacrit­icals in Indic terms, Gentium Basic is used throughout, delivered using @font-face by kernest​.com.

The theme has been de-bloggified, removing comments, dates, and so on: I’m after a lasting repos­itory of quality writing, not a changing diary. If you want to discuss stuff, use this blog.

There are a few exper­i­ments: notice that hovering the cursor will highlight the text, changing the dark grey text into black; this is because some readers find even dark grey difficult to read. In addition, this can serve as an attention focuser. On single posts, the same action will display automatic paragraph numbers to the side. This is because I am conscious that any writing these days will be published in a variety of media, and for reference sake texts should be marked according to paragraphs, which are a genuine textual entity, not pages, which are merely an artifact of the technology the text is presented in.

Posts will be made available in several formats: as well as the basic html for web viewing, they are, or will be, in pdf (for downloading and printing) and Scribd (for, well, whatever people use Scribd for…). More formats coming…

The content is, for the most part, my old essays taken from the earlier santipada, with a few additions. In time I will adapt my books in a similar way. I intend to use that site as a repository of quality writing, so from time to time I may take the most lasting of my blog posts, polish them up, and include them.

For now, a treat for all you blog readers. The first post on the new site is a new piece of imaginative writing, now published for the first time: ‘Dreams of Bhaddā’. I hope you like it….

And let me know what you think of the new site…

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30 thoughts on “New Santipada site

  1. I found that the text in the header that cycles through various quotes “pushes” the overall blog text up and down, depending on how long the paragraph of the quote is. It distracts from reading the text when half way down a post. I’m on Firefox.

    Also it might be worth installing or turning on the mobile theme so that it makes it easier to view on an iPhone or other smart phone.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, ben. I’ve seen this before, but thought it was fixed – obviously not. I am only part way through testing on various browsers, so more needs to be done here. I built it using Chrome on Ubuntu, by the way. And a mobile version is definitely required…

  3. Dear Sujato

    I googled the old Santipada website last week and found the new one. It’s great.

    FYI, anything in WordPress seems to work well on a mobile, at least on Android.

    Regards

    David

  4. WOW! Very elegant!

    one little thing- the ‘tags’ section seems a bit messy – perhaps it’s the different font sizes.

    Other than that it’s such a high quality website. Majestic:)

    I love the quotes on the top right:) the ones about seeking pleasure within and ‘One who thinks: “I am woman” or “I am man” or “I am anything at all” is fit for Mara to address!’

  5. hahah, just reading a bit about Bhadda. It’s hilarious Bhante. I didn’t read the whole thing but the parts I did read are very funny and made me laugh- mostly because you’re using current language and no dictionary words :)
    ex: “SHUT THE $#@% UP!”
    .. “‘What the!?’” “‘Parade my ass, that’s a riot. How cool is that?”

    very funny:)

    the story sounds familiar, were you inspired from the terigatha, from the one who fell in love with a criminal and then pushed him over the cliff- clever girl:)

    About the top paragraph of Badda ‘self’ flying out of the mouth when she’s asleep…. sounds very familiar! It’s like the story of the little thumb isn’t it!

    by the way, the light blueish grey from the old santipada website is more pleasing to the eye and gives a softer feel to the website than just grey. Dunno if you want to experiment with color? but grey is ‘good enough!’ :)

  6. Bhante Sujato,
    It’s so inspiring reading Badda’s wisdom and verse, especially
    “Come, Bhaddā!” he said to me –
    That was my full ordination.

    It says “the vision of the Dhamma arose in those nuns: ”

    Bhante, sometimes the suttas use different words alluding to profound experience of Dhamma. Sometimes it says the “knowledge”, vision and sometimes the “Dhamma eye”. What is the difference between knowledge, vision and opening Dhamma eye etc?

    ex: in Badda’s verse: “I purified the Vision of Dhamma.
    When I had under stood the true Dhamma”
    Also, later her mind was released.

    It’s a bit confusing the difference between the vision of Dhamma, understanding the Dhamma and then later mind released? What do these words point to along different steps along the path to nibbana? How does the Buddha want us to understand this?
    Maybe if Ajahn Brahmali feels comfy replying, that’s appreciated too!:)

    thanks:)
    Dania

  7. this is great! I must copy/paste a part from Bhante’s story from Badda:

    “‘But can there be an ending of karma?’

    ‘How can there not be?’ said the Buddha. ‘Karma is a condition, and like all condi­tions, it passes. It will go by itself – if you let it. Let go! Don’t hang on to your past any longer – you have suffered too much. Allow yourself to find peace.’

    ‘How can I do this?’ said Bhaddā. ‘How can I learn to let go?’

    ‘This is what I call the Middle Way. Avoid both the indul gence of the body and the torture of the body. Develop the noble eightfold path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right tranquility of mind. This is the way that leads to the ending of all suffering.’”

  8. Dear Bhante,

    Just finished reading “Dreams of Baddha” — WOW, brilliant! Loved the Dhamma depth and wisdom woven through story, myth, image, “history”. And all from the impossible, unreasonable desire of a woman…

    Thank-you!
    Linda

  9. yep that seems to have fixed it – on a mac with safari now.

    i note with amusement the google ads for microsoft sharepoint embedded in your blog above.

  10. Bhante,
    If one were to stay at Santi as a layperson for one month or so would one be permitted to engage in a few hours of creative writing each day (a novel on a Buddhist king, for children)?
    Metta and Very Happy Vesakh Day,
    Lisa

  11. Lisa:
    To your question about staying at Santi, that would be a yes.
    If you look at the stay page at Santi’s website
    you’ll see that there are very few activities here. The rest is free time so you could do creative writing. However you probably could not use a computer for that as we have a policy of no computers and no computer access to short term guests.

    Will be great to have you come stay.

  12. Hi Lisa,

    That would be something we’d discuss. Normally we restrict access to computers, especially for short term lay guests. But we are always open to any reasonable request!

  13. Fonts are hard to read and the theme, although uses high contrast colors the overall layout is biased a bit too much in favour of “The Erudite” style and not enough towards “The Accessible” style.

    Good colours to use for display screens are blues and greens.

    The best fonts on the web for readability are Arial, Tahoma and Verdana, sans-serif family are best for print.

    I do not know if WordPress offer this functionality but (as to CSS) colours and layout should be easily modified from the browser.

    Font size should not be overidden by authors style prferences and should be rendered according to users browsers settings.

    Many designers where content cannot be easily differentiated from those of others look at style in order to make a website distinctive but you HAVE good, original content – so the focus on setting the style is perhaps less of a priority and should be left open to your viistors to choose as much as they can – the default being ease of use – especially when there is a lot of text.

    You can expect the “inventors of the internet” to get it right – and – when it come to FUNCTION over style they do:-

    http://www.w3.org

    Hope this helps.

  14. Dear Ayya Mahacitta,
    I was very touched to receive this response from you (and from Bhante of course too, thank you). I have been 24/7 on a trip to Africa and returning now look at the beautiful 2 months ahead that I have worked so hard to free! Will send Santi a message offline.
    With much gratitude and Metta :-) _/\_

  15. Very nice site, Bhante. Could you please put better bibliographic information (similar to jstor), for those who like proper citations. Especially, your articles should be dated.

  16. Too bad I-tunes store requires a credit card and hence out or reach for true mendicants.

  17. Hi Mat,

    Thanks for your detailed and useful comments.

    re fonts; may i ask what browser and OS you are using? For me, the font is very nice and easy to read, so this may be a browser issue.

    After considerable research, I avoid the traditional web-safe fonts, as none of them have the necessary diacriticals, except tahoma, which is not found on Linux or macs. the font is Gentium Basic, delivered via @font-face. This is an emerging technology, so i would expect that problems will gradually be resolved in future.

    I disagree about font sizes: most users do not know how to set these for their own suitablility. I have good eyesight, but still am constantly surprised by how small fonts are on the web.

    I have thought of making a parallel ‘plain vanilla’ version of the site, with default styles and fluid layout, for those that want to control it all themselves.

  18. Thanks, i’ll try. But actually I’ve forgotten when many of them were written… For web citation, usually the web address and so on as provided at the right should sufficient, although fuller information is definitely better.

  19. It seems as though Arial and Courier can be rendered according to ISO transliterations (ISO 15919) – and can be implemented by way of an inline “lang” attribute wheras (froma web design standpoint) CSS font and body styles etc. are something different.

    I am not sure of the cross-browser compatibility issues you mention – CSS is fairly standard in all browsers now and the differences in rendering CSS are quite rare.

    The meta tags and the editor interface in wordpress may be restricted – I do not know wordpress.

    If you are fixing font size in pixels then you are not allowing for differences in screen resolution – which can be anything from handeld 320×240 to 2K+ for large widescreens – a relative font size is generally regarded as being better – unless you are prepared to deliver thousands of lines of code via CSS after SNIFFING browser and environment variables (most coroprate websites like MICROSOFT take this route)

    your idea of creating a plain vanilla version is great – I do not know how easy this is in wordpress – but a simple link to a stylesheet is quite straightforward to implement within a managed / hosted environment.

    I would love to get into the detail of santipada site as I have enjoyed the content that I have read so far – but the current style is hindering my investigations !!

    go well

  20. That’s a very nice site. Thank you Bhante!
    I enjoy Dreams of Bhadda a lot, especially the jokes and the part where the Buddha met her…. ROFL on the Sesame Street Big Bird as the Golden Eagle!
    (Although, admittedly, I think you’ll be burned alive by ardent LOTR fans if they ever laid eyes on your LOTR story, they are very critical of every small “mis-perceptions”. But it’s very enjoyable as well, and of course you read them long time ago.)

    I am new to Buddhism, and with so much noises out there, I think this is how Buddhism should be related to common people like us: with intelligence, wit, kindness, up-to-date/modern, expressive, and lots of smiles!

    Monks should have their feet firmly on the ground, let everyone know they are happy if they do! Ajahn Brahm said he went to Thailand to be ordained because the monks there smiled the most, he wanted to be in a happy monastery. Was that what you wanted too?
    It surely is the reason why I am here.

  21. Terasi :
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Monks should have their feet firmly on the ground, let everyone know they are happy …

    I mean by “monks” is both bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. Didn’t realise that in English “monkhood” refers only to males… inequal!!

  22. Hi, Could you please remove my comments on this topic? I notice you have since installed “Customized Syntax Theme” so my comments (made nearly five years ago) about the style and theme issues are redundant. Thanks very much.

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